Conceived in 2012 and founded by brothers Peter and Nikolay Iliev, Cloudcart LLC was established in 2014 and located in the USA. The first version of the software was released in 2015 and was funded with the assistance of Web media Ltd (A Bulgarian web design and creative studio) who input $500,000 into the fledgeling startup.
Peter Iliev is the CTO and technical brains behind Cloudcart and Nikolay the CEO and sales and marketing expert who has over ten years of experience in various industries. Cloudcart have around ten employees.
Cloudcart is aimed at complete beginners who can't afford design agency costs and want a simple but robust eCommerce presence with all the features you need to make a success of modern Internet marketing and multiple selling channels like eBay and Facebook. Cloudcart also supports digital product selling.
With the lowest price point at £15.75 per month (with unlimited products), Cloudcart is a third of the cost of competitors like Shopify, EKM or Shopwired. The eCommerce website builder interface is easy to use, and the template designs are stunning.
I put Cloudcart through its paces to see what I could build and find out if it is suitable for UK users.
The signup routine is straightforward, and your store is created automatically. After completing the setup routine, you will be presented with your store dashboard:
Once you are ready to start building an excellent intro tour points out what the buttons do and gives you a quick orientation tour. Something at which Strikingly might like to take a look.
Design & Templates
There are over forty themes from which to choose. There are simple "one product" designs to more advanced many product designs. I picked the "white guitar" for my store, and it looks fantastic!
There is a theme editor, and you can input your custom CSS into an override form if you wish to change it. The colours are chosen by a simple colour "pick and choose" so there is no inputting of hex codes. It also means there is limited scope for a beginner to choose garish colour combinations and make an abomination of their design.
Images can be replaced by just uploading a new image to overwrite the old one and so managing logos, and other site assets are very straightforward.
In the "General Settings" section, you can enter your store name, alter the copyright text and other basics like timezone and date format. Ease of use is the best feature of Cloudcart – the theme designs are stunning and very easy to alter.
Apps And Integrations
This part of an eCommerce website builder is always a work in progress as they try to make as many integrations as possible with the resources at hand. As it stands, there are 64 Apps available to install, but access to them will depend on which subscription plan you have (see below)
First of all, create your categories and then add your products. This process is straightforward, and you can drag and drop images from your computer. One of the great features that Cloudcart has is the ability to be able to sell digital products.
Immediately I see a problem here. Cloudcart has gone down the route of limiting features based on your subscription plan, so if you are opting for the £15.75 "basic" plan you'll find you can't do the following:
- Abandoned cart tracking
- Product reports
- Payment or customer reports
- Facebook selling
- eBay selling
- MailChimp integration.
- Brand removal option. (Powered by Cloudcart)
Some options like eBay selling are only available on the "Professional" plan (£889 per year) which is absurd.
My advice to Cloudcart is to make all plans equal and use the same approach as EKM, Lemonstand or Shopwired and base the price on the amount of revenue that the store generates. This way, people don't get a surprise when they sign up for a free trial and then can't install the Apps they want without upgrading.
Omitting an App or feature from the basic plan means you can't test the functionality without upgrading to a paid subscription, making the free trial redundant.
On the Cloudcart website, some of the features are showing the database table names rather than the labels. Hence, unless you know what you are looking for, it's impossible to identify the different items.
manual.plan_feature_disqus_comments is the addition of the Disqus Comments system, and this all needs fixing.
These omissions make the "Basic Plan" pretty redundant because with missing features like "FAQ Pages" how are you going to provide a convincing platform?
On the plus side, there are universal products, free templates, free storage and hosting, zero transaction fees and no setup fees. The cloud-based website builder market is getting more competitive, and you would expect the inclusion of these items. Only Shopify still makes transaction charges if you don't use their Shopify payments system.
Accepted payment methods without a third party:
COD (Cash on Delivery) and Bank Wire Transfer
Accepted payment methods without a third party payment processor: Stripe, PayPal, eBay, Skrill, Authorize.net
This means that at the moment there is no integration with Payment Sense, Card Stream, Sage or WorldPay, which are the leading UK payment gateways.
UK users should choose Stripe as their payment gateway until others become available.
Cloudcart's pricing plan is spoiled by limiting features by price instead of making all features available across all subscriptions and then priced by turnover or quantity of product. A flaw that other eCommerce website builders have realised and rectified.
On the face of it, you look at the website, and you think "oh great, eBay selling, Facebook selling, Digital products" only to be let down when you discover none of these is available on the basic or "Professional" plan. Even "Professional" sellers can't use this product to sell on eBay! You'll need to jump to the £899 per year plan to be able to do that.
I also have concerns over the Cloudcart website itself.
If a website is going to convert customers, then it must be free of grammar errors and other simple design factors like broken links. Thus the most pressing issue for Cloudcart is to put its own house in order and address the poor use of English throughout the Cloudcart website.
You can't help but feel that whatever the number of daily signups Cloudcart has, they could probably double this number just by using a tool like Grammarly or getting a freelancer to go through the text and put everything right.
The text and grammatical errors on the website are a big shame because the Cloudcart website itself is nicely designed and well laid out.
If a website selling an eCommerce solution doesn't take it's own conversion rate seriously, then how will it fair with yours?
On first looks, Cloudcart looks like it might be a great alternative to Shopify, but sadly it's the flawed pricing structure, and poor website execution let it down badly. A shame, because the £15.75 price per month is a real crowd-pleaser.
If Cloudcart remedied the Grammar on the website, fixed the broken links and database errors and then made all features available across all plans then maybe they would have a real contender in the eCommerce website builder marketplace. But unfortunately for the moment, it's an also-ran.